January is too long, this we already know. You only have to look to social media in the latter days to find post after post bemoaning the length of the month after Christmas, the month after the one we frittered our monies away on ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ and overconsumption. It’s Day 71 of January, etc etc.
I’ve never really had a problem with January, fiscal issues aside, as it’s at least the start of something and while there are many that gleefully roll out the same curmudgeonly views – yes it is just another month – the promise of the year that stretches before us has always, no matter how I try and rationalise it away, brought me a sense of hope and excitement. I may not resolve to this or that (or maybe I do and just call them something different) but I like the blank canvas the new year affords, and with it that first month of exciting new beginnings. Where shall my life go now?
Winter, alas, is not my favourite season. For that please turn to Spring, or Autumn, depending on my whim. Summer is fine, I enjoy the sunshine and long languid evenings, but the seasons of change retain an element of comfort for me, tied as they are to natural growth cycles, blossoms bloom and leaves turn, as they always have. I have always revelled in change and find myself drawn to the seasons and months that offer this in abundance.
Such preferences are built through a lifetime and reflect my age as much as my sentiment, with memories of seasons past starting to blur in the face of the change to the seasonal months as we know them brought about by climate change; December retains more of an autumn warmth, and it’s January and February which we look to for winter as they plunge us below zero. The calendar itself is a man-made construct, yet these changes, writ by man, are no less of a concern.
Looking across a calendar, I look to March as the start of Spring and, putting aside the Summer months, it is November with its retained air of Autumn, that allows me the briefest of Winters; December is heady with the end of the year and the usual festivities, and January holds the promise of new, so that brings me to February.
I am not a fan.
Despite its brevity it remains the one month of the year that feels stuck, a month that has no purpose other than to mark time. I could be persuaded to lay the same claim on October but as it includes my day of birth, and its own thoughts of renewal and growth and change, it remains unsullied (in my view if not yours).
Other than the increasing ridiculousness that is Valentine’s Day, February holds no allure and so my mood dips to match it. A month to persevere through, a month that is only there to allow the continuance from January should you still strive for it, a month that is so unsure of itself that it can’t even decide how many days it has.
I feel sorry for February, once the rose tinged madness of the 14th is past, what then? Aside from being a curio derived from astronomical measurements, it has little to no appeal. There are the flickerings of new growth which point towards the coming months – hello snowdrops – but what else?
Perhaps it is just me and my desire to fast forward through this month that is borne from an unusually successful January in the hope that I can retain those achievements and more. Perhaps this is the downside of my hyper-aware, quantified self that is all too eager to see the final rendering of the stat-driven picture that is developing, all the sooner to enjoy its triumphs. Or perhaps it is simply an unintended by-product of the very thing I was striving for all along, arriving quicker than I had imagined, leaving me casting around, what’s next?
I’ve spent a lot of January slowing down, successfully disengaging from social media, and maybe this is where February has its place and earns its keep. The name February is derived from a Latin term that means purification. Is this deliberate nothing of a month exactly that to give time to pause and cleanse yourself before the rest of the year that lies ahead? If you hew to the resolutions made as the year turned, perhaps this is even more pertinent, a time to purify your resolve to better prepare it for the challenges yet to be encountered.
Or maybe it isn’t that complicated, maybe the slow lengthening of the daylight hours is allowing me to look ahead fondly to warmer, lighter days.
Maybe it’s just down to the weather.
All of this I ponder as I walk home. It is a typical February day; mostly grey and overcast with a chill carried on the breeze that wriggles uninvited on to skin. I turn up my collar and with hands thrust in pockets, I march onwards, eyes fixed on the horizon with a burbling excitement of whatever lies beyond.
I hope soon to see Spring.